Last weekend, Chris and I were lucky enough to spend it at Orange Beach with AHERO at their 5th Annual Warrior Hook-up Event. AHERO connects veterans and first responders through outdoor activities as a means to heal from physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wounds. It was a weekend with over 40 veterans getting to know each other, sharing and healing. While neither of us have been in the service, we were fortunate enough to be part of the volunteer staff.
When the weekend was over and Chris and I were driving home, we were at a loss for words on how to accurately describe what we experienced. Over and over again, we saw camaraderie and friendships grow. We saw people bonding over common themes and common service. More than once, we heard people describe this weekend as spending it with “family.” It didn’t matter that they weren’t actually related or that they’d only just met; they were joined together because of AHERO and their service to country. By the end of the weekend, we were fortunate enough to say they were our family, too.
As believers, we are also part of a different family, God’s family. The Bible gives us clear scripture that tells us who our Father is.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,” –John 1:12
“And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me,” says the Lord Almighty.” –2 Corinthians 6:18
“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”—Galatians 4:6
Whether your earthly family is right beside you every step of the way or has abandoned you long ago, when you accept Christ as your Savior and call on His name, you become part of the family of God. You now have a Father who will never leave you. You do not have to walk alone.
Not only do you have a Heavenly Father who is there, you have your Christian brothers and sisters who are connected to you, as well. As members of that family, we should be displaying God’s love to each other. These men and women from the weekend’s events showed me what that looks like. They encouraged, they pushed, they challenged, they supported, and they loved.
Even though the weekend is now over and everyone is back at their homes around the country, we are still texting back and forth, checking on each other, and getting to know each other better. I pray that each of you see you have family in the body of Christ.
If you don’t know what it means to have God as your Father, please reach out to me or Emily. We’d love to talk to you about how you can become a part of the family of God!
I had on a VERY cheesy movie in the background today. It was a “Christian-based” film. It is about a girl who believes in Jesus and the verse in the bible that says if you have faith the grain of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. Because she believes and prays over people, they start to get healed. And she starts healing EVERYONE. People are showing up on the girl’s doorstep with every ailment wanting her to touch them and pray for them. I’ll be honest…I stopped watching after a while, because it was pretty theologically lacking. But it got me to thinking about the book of John study that I’m in with Table 8.
We see multiple verses in the Bible that talk about the people who wanted to see Jesus perform the miracles. In the first 7 chapters, we see Him tell the Samaritan woman about her life without her telling Him, He heals a child that is in a different location than Him, He heals a man that hasn’t walked in 38 years and we also see Him feed a crowd of 5,000 men plus women and children.
The crowds keep following Him wanting Him to do more signs and miracles. He tells one of the people in John 5:48, “So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.’”
He’s told them who He is. To some, He has flat out told them He came from God the Father. To others, He’s used imagery that they would be familiar with. But what He says bears no weight on them without the signs and wonders. On top of it all, no matter how many miracles He performs, many just won’t believe who He says He is without even more “proof.” But how much proof is needed?
Sometimes, we do the same thing with God even today. We ask God for things yet continue to question and ask for clarity when it’s already been given. Maybe it’s not where we really want to go. Maybe it’s a different outcome than we wanted. Or maybe it’s exactly what we’ve been hoping for. However, we keep asking for more, noticing what He’s already done but still wanting more to prove it.
How much does God have to prove who He is? He is The Beginning and The End (Revelation 21:6, 22:13). He is the Author and Perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He needed only to speak the world into existence (Genesis 1). We don’t need Him to prove Himself. He proved Himself when He sent His Son, the perfect Lamb, to the earth to die on a cross and raise from the grave three days later!
I pray that as we week God, we see the proof that has already been given to us and trust Him and what He says!
I’m sure most of us have all taken a “Gifts” test at a church we’ve been a part of! If you haven’t, let me explain it to you; it’s typically a 20-30 item form that gives you statements about your personality. You answer them by rating each one on a scale of 1-5 (1 means ‘never’, 5 being ‘always’). The statements include things like, “Working with my hands is fun for me” or “I pray for the lost daily.” “Having people over to my house is something I do often” and “I tend to motivate others to get involved” are two others you might see. Once your test total is figured out, it shows you where your strengths and best areas of services are for you within the church! This last Monday, the subject of callings, gifts, and ministry was being discussed at our Table 8 Bible Study as we were going through chapter 3 in the book of John.In verses 22-26, we see Jesus and His disciples back in Judea. John the Baptist and His disciples were also in the same area. The Baptist’s disciples brought up to John the fact that Jesus and His disciples were baptizing and those people were going to Jesus instead of John. We pick up at John’s response to them in verses 27-30. John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.”John clearly tells his disciples that no man gets his ministry unless it’s given to him by heaven. John was there only to be the ‘friend of the bridegroom.’ God gave him the calling and gift of evangelism to prepare the way, not to be THE one.Often we think about what we’re good at in regards to gifts. After all, that’s the point of the test. We see that God’s calling on our lives is usually to use our gifts for His glory and that’s typically why He’s allowed us to excel in them. See example of John the Baptist!However, we have to remember that sometimes God’s calling in our lives is not what we expect or want. Sometimes the calling or the ministry that’s given to you by heaven is scary and overwhelming. Please don’t say that, Erin! But I have to…Look at Moses! He fought with God on His calling. He asked God multiple times, “But what if they don’t believe me?” And God showed Him the miracles he could perform and what to say. Moses then told God he was not eloquent in speech, he wouldn’t be able to do it. God tells him, “I’ll be with you and teach you what to say.” STILL, Moses tells him to send someone else! Ultimately, we see Moses finally obeying and delivering the Israelites out of Egypt as God commanded.How about Gideon who was called to take his army and defeat the Midianites? He told God his people were the weakest in the area and he was the “least” in his family. God not only allowed him to defeat the army but he was also a judge for Israel.I know it’s easy to think that what we’re the best at is what God will call us to do. But I pray we’re all daily asking God what our calling is from Him so that He can use us in whichever way He desires despite what our gifts test says!~Erin
There was a point in my life where I talked myself out of guilt time and time again to soothe myself into believing what I was doing was ok. My marriage of five years was on the rocks. My husband was always working. I stayed at home with the kids and we lived 40 minutes from town. I was allowed to go have a little fun with my girlfriend once in a while, right?! It was no big deal, and the lady I was hanging out with went to church so it was completely “fine.”
Except that it wasn’t. The occasional Girls Night Out on a weekend turned into every week. One drink turned into drunk at the bar. I wasn’t getting the attention I felt I deserved at home, so what was the harm in smiling at another guy…or talking to one. As long as I wasn’t being inappropriate, what was the problem? Did you notice that I not only tried to soothe my guilt but I also redefined what was considered inappropriate?! Oh what a web we weave.
Sin permeates everything.
My first mistake was stepping back from church. Satan set the trap. Then I stepped back from daily time with the Lord. Satan began to manipulate. Instead of being discerning in my friendships, I looked for someone that commiserated rather than edified. From then on, I was hooked. Sin took over it all. Within a year, I wasn’t even talking to God, I was filing for divorce, I had stopped engaging with any of my faithful Christian friends, and I was always looking for the fun party of the weekend. Sin had taken over my life. It seeped into my marriage and my friendships. It melted into my relationship with Jesus. Even at a moment when I thought I MIGHT be able to salvage my marriage, sin had impregnated so much of my life, I let Satan have the hold on me and continued with the divorce.
Sin. Permeates. Everything.
When the Pharisees spoke to Jesus in John 8, they couldn’t understand what He meant about being free when they had not been slaves since the time of Moses. Jesus responded to them in John 8:34, “…Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”
Sin makes you a slave. It made me a slave to the world. It made me a slave to the culture. It made me a slave to Satan. But God…
Thank you to the one true God who has infinite grace and mercy on a sinner like me! When I repented of that sin and turned from it, I was released from it. God didn’t see the jerk that I had been. Now, He saw the remorseful Christian woman who surrendered it at His feet.
Maybe you’re recognizing just now that sin permeates it all. Perhaps you think you’ve gone too far to have God forgive. I’m here to tell you that that it’s not possible. He seeks you even today. No sin is too great. No thought is too much. No distance is too far. He is right there waiting to forgive and welcome you back into the fold. Sin doesn’t have to continue to seep into everything. The Lord can take it over and turn into a beautiful work for His glory.
Last week was my two-year anniversary of living in the beautiful state of Alabama! I’ve loved every minute of living here, and there are no regrets with making such a huge move to make our home in the south. While I could do without temperatures of 143° and 923° humidity, I love the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made and the home we’ve created.
One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed between here and California (where I lived for five years before moving here) are the amount of people who say they’re Christians and talk about God openly. Church is almost a culture out here, a legacy that’s been passed down from generation to generation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that someone’s membership to a local church started with their MawMaw or GreatGranny taking their kids so many years ago!
In California, the conversation was not as free-flowing about Christianity. Don’t get me wrong…it wasn’t nonexistent. You just didn’t hear, “I’ll pray for you,” or “God bless” as you left your local grocery store. No one was asking random strangers if the church’s youth group could help clean up your yard!
Now, hear me out on this one. I’m not looking to step on toes. I’m not looking to rile up the great people of the south (or of California). But this idea of Christianity being a “culture” around here got me thinking.
Have you fully surrendered to God? Are you a blood-bought believer, saved by the grace of God, living for Him in every aspect of your life? Or is it just a culture….a legacy that’s been given to you because it’s what the family has always believed?
These are not questions I ask lightly. And these are not questions I have not already asked myself. My parents were Christians. My father was raised in a Christian home. It’s what I’ve always known. But I would be remiss in not recognizing whether or not my salvation is because I made a choice to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ or because it’s what my mom and dad “did” so I did. My actions, my attitude, and my heart should be clear indicators as to whether or not I am a new creation.
The Bible speaks clearly to being not of this world and being about the Father’s world.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” –1 John 2:15
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.” –Colossians 3:2
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” –Romans 12:2
While it’s important to attend a church, have your children going, have your children’s children going, there must be more to the story than just a legacy. Does our faith show? Does our faith produce works that show? Is our heart truly surrendered to the Creator of the Universe?
Our actions and our life should reflect 100% submission to God. There should be no room for doubt when someone sees us that we are committed to Christ. I’m not saying perfection. I’m saying active pursuit of righteousness.
There’s one way to heaven. I don’t get to go because my mom and pop were Christians or because my Grandma prayed for me. I get to be a citizen of heaven because I made the personal decision to accept Christ as my Savior.
Maybe you’re reading this and recognize that you haven’t done that yet. I encourage, dear friend, call on the Lord. Tell Him you’re a sinner and that you’re nothing without Him. Repent of your sins and ask Christ to come live in your heart as Lord of your life. There is no greater moment than knowing you have stopped becoming a citizen of this earth and are bound for your true home in heaven!
There’s this moment where you feel as if you’re the only one that has ever gone through this. And that moment lasts for days, weeks, maybe months. No one ever talks about it. Maybe because you feel it’s not your story to tell. Maybe because you feel embarrassed. Maybe because you’re afraid you’ll be judged. But those thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth. So here I am, ready to break this stigma wide open, because it needs to be done. Particularly in the Christian community. And I share it with the full support of Peyton.
On March 6th of this year, my sweet Peyton tried to kill herself. Even writing it now makes me cry. I never thought I’d be the parent who wrote those words. But my daughter was so overwhelmed that she felt like the best option was to go to sleep and never wake up. So she filled her small hand with pills, downed them with a glass of water and laid down.
She has absolutely zero recollection of waking up about an hour later. She has no memory of trying to go to the bathroom and talking to us…or attempting to. She doesn’t recall the next hour of her dad and I trying to talk to her, putting her in the shower to see if she would be coherent, and us searching her room for the alcohol or drugs we were sure we would find.
We thought she was drunk or high. She’d sleep it off. While I was going through her phone to see how she’d gotten the stuff, I made the single biggest mistake I think I’ll ever make in my life. I opened her phone’s internet browser and I saw her search history, “How much amitriptyline do I take to overdose.” And I thought, “WHAT A RANDOM THING TO LOOK UP. NOT MY KID.” If it had been a neon sign, it would’ve blinded me and I still don’t think I would’ve acknowledged it. Instead, I just kept looking for where she got the alcohol or drugs.
She laid in the living room on the couch asleep while I laid down on the love seat beside her, checking her throughout the night.
When she woke up the next morning, she was completely disoriented and didn’t understand why she was in the living room. I looked at her and asked if she felt ok. She said yes and just sat there for a moment before she looked up at me with tears in her eyes.
“Can I tell you something without you getting mad?”
I said, “Tell me.”
“I tried to kill myself last night.” And she started to cry.
What we had witnessed was my daughter’s body reacting to an overdose. Miraculously, despite my willful ignorance to her Google search, she survived.
When you’re going through a tremendously painful time like an attempted suicide, you’re not really sure who to call or talk to. Which one of your friends will understand? Who is going to judge you or your kid? Who’s going to pray, and not just pray in passing but pray the host of heaven down on your child to heal her physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? Who’s going to treat your child differently? Who’s going to treat YOU differently?
There’s such a stigma attached to mental health and it can feel embarrassing. But as Chris and I walked through the next 6 days of a trip to the ER followed by some inpatient time for Peyton on an adolescent psychiatric unit, we found out we weren’t the only ones. We knew a surprising number of people who did or were going through the exact thing we were.
It’s been two months since her attempt, and it’s been a process to work through healing for her as well as for us. We find that the more candid we are with Peyton about what happened and what her feelings are currently, the more she feels ok to open up when she struggles. We can’t put her in a protective bubble (which, believe me, I’d love to do) but we can ensure that we’re walking WITH her during this. She now knows that she’s not alone in this fight because her entire family is here to fight with her. In turn, this has allowed her to be very open about her mental health and attempted suicide with others. She wants to know that her miraculous gift of failure in that attempt will help someone reach out before their attempt is a permanent consequence.
My walk with God is even more important than just walking with Peyton. As a Christian mother, I know that God is bigger than trauma, than hurts, than depression. He is bigger than the lies the devil tells her.
These two verses are ones that I’ve held strong to since March.
“When you pass through the waters I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.” –Isaiah 43:2
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33
I know that God is with us. He sees her and He loves her. And though there is a fight going on in her head and in her heart, He has not left her to fight this alone. In fact, He wishes to fight on her behalf. He wants to fight on my behalf. I praise God that even though the world is often too invested in ‘self,’ He is invested in US.
If you are struggling with this in your home, please, I beg you, know that you are not alone. Not only do you have a Heavenly Father who is 100% for you, you have friends here at the Iron Porch who understand and have walked in this valley, as well. There is no judgment here. There is no stigma here. There is the love of a Savior and friends who stand with you.
**If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.**
We lost a chicken yesterday. And by lost I mean something came in and decided raw chicken was better than fried chicken. There were feathers everywhere. Our teeny tiny Bantam rooster was no match for whatever got in there, and little Truffles became a meal for some creature in the woods.
Peyton and Chris felt they had made a great enclosure. They knew it wasn’t foolproof. It didn’t have a real roof, but with a coop inside the large closed-in space to lock them up at night, they felt it was rather safe. However, as the chickens got older and as Peyton started working, it was less frequent that she remembered to close the coop at night. There hadn’t been a problem since we bought the chicks 10 months ago, and we got lazy in doing the little bit extra to keep them protected.
Are we the same way about sin? God gives us clear scripture telling us of the need to protect ourselves from the wiles of satan.
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” –Ephesians 6:11
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” –James 4:7
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” –I Peter 5:8
“And no wonder, for even satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” –2 Corinthians 11:14
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” –John 10:11
It is well known that satan will do whatever it takes to keep us from full fellowship with God. If he can tempt us with thoughts of coveting, greed, or selfishness, he will. If he can get us thinking about how nice it would be to skip your bible study or miss church, he’ll do it! There’s nothing he won’t do to try and steal our devotion to God.
We should be prepared for this! We shouldn’t only be praying “Father, keep us protected from satan.” We should be studying scripture, digging into the word, putting on the FULL armor of God to protect ourselves. The more we are submitting and surrendering to the will of God, the harder it is for satan to get that access to us.
When we’re fully prepped and ready, we aren’t sitting around waiting for the attacks of the devil. We’re ready to keep those sinful deeds at bay before they even get close enough to become an action!
Ladies, let’s stand strong in our faithfulness to God and prepare ourselves properly for a possible attack before that nasty thief even gets close!
I participated yesterday in my first summer food program through the Elmore County Child Nutrition Program. In our county they are providing food for the summer for any child 18 and under. It’s enough food to allow for 7 days of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. It’s an amazing program they’ve been offering since Covid-19 hit, and it’s been a huge blessing to the residents with children here in our region.
As this is my first summer here, I had only heard stories of what it would be like. I was shocked to see a well-oiled machine…three stations, each set up with their own volunteers, welcoming us as we pulled up, letting us know when they’d put their portion in and guiding us to the next station. As we rolled up to each station, I couldn’t help but be shocked at what I saw them putting in my trunk.
Fresh local produce, meat, cereal, milk, cheese, crackers, pasta—these were items with which you could build meals. It seems as if it’s an opportunity to not only feed the children of Elmore County, but also bring families together during mealtimes. This was an outpouring of love from a community onto its members. Many communities are doing things like this, but just as many are not.
The willingness and love given to these local families reminds me of a verse. John 15:12 says, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
This act of love helps those around us. No, they’re not necessarily giving out of their own pockets. However, they are giving so much time and energy and support into making sure that each child in this area has an opportunity to be fed and cared for through this outreach. There are, I’m sure, countless hours being given to ensure a successful program.
I encourage each of you to look around at what’s going on in your community. If there’s a way to support the people around and show them some love, the way Jesus showed His love to us, get busy doing it! Be a part of the programs in your community, as well! The volunteers that dedicate their time love to see that people are taking part in the activities. It shows just as much love to them as love to you!
Thank you, Elmore County Child Nutrition Program, for your dedication to our children. It’s not unnoticed! Does your community have something like this? Share in the comments how your community is being loved on.
I’m a self-declared lover of travel. It could be one town over, the next State, or another country. I love exploring new location, eating the local food, and meeting people who live in those destinations. I have wanderlust and am most content planning the next trip.
I completely embrace the quote “Not all who wander are lost.”
One of the things I enjoy about traveling is the preparation. I love the planning and researching to make the most of a vacation. If it hasn’t been selected for me, I choose the location, the amount of time to travel, and the mode of transportation. I make lists of foodie-related places to check out. I figure out the historic or notable attractions to explore. I game plan if I have any friends or family in the vacation location. I count down to the departure date. And then I pack.
Preparing for your vacation is similar to preparing for a journey to heaven. Like a vacation destination selection, you must make the decision of if heaven is a location you’d like to go. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NASB)
You must accept the gift of Jesus’ death for your sins, which essentially becomes the selection of your transportation. The difference between an earthy vacation and a journey to heaven is that Jesus paid the price of the ticket for you to go to heaven. Only Christ’s blood is a sufficient payment for this particular trip.
Like earthly vacation research, our preparation for heaven does not end with choosing the destination and transportation. No, we still have work to do. Once we become Christians, our entire life should be focused on the journey and preparations that God has for our lives. This could include Bible study, mission work, sharing the Gospel, tithing, holy living and even attending church faithfully.
Are you a traveler?
Are you going to heaven?
Have you started packing?
“For we know that if our earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made by hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1 (NASB)
My fourth grader made it into the finals at his elementary school spelling bee, which meant we were studying a lengthy list of spelling words for the first few weeks of December. Words were given at random times, such as waiting in check-out lines, while driving to the dentist, and through the phone. Erin was also recruited to help testing spelling words.
I’ll be honest, the words started blurring together over the days of helping prepare for the spelling competition. We started getting creative and silly with the process. If Kambell said he was hungry, I’d start to give him food related words that weren’t even on the list. If I started a to-do list, he would start spelling items that needed to be on the list. We spelled animals, neighbor names, places we’d like to travel…anything was fair game for spelling.
And then one morning my son suggested we spell Christmas words. I started by giving him the word “Present” followed by the word “Candy-cane.” He said the word, spelled the word, then repeated the word in both instances. As I was thinking about the next word he looked at me and said, “I was thinking more of Christmas words like Jesus, Manger or Bethlehem.”
It’s at this point that the judgey-side-eyes should be headed my way.
In the midst of strange COVID related 2020 shenanigans, I was not focused on the truest meaning of Christmas. It took a 9-year-old to remind me. For real, y’all! My son straight schooled me on which words should be the true Christmas words!!!
It took that conversation to re-focus me on the intent of this season. The remembrance of the birth of our Savior. The truest and most precious gift ever given to any of us by our Lord. Give yourself the gift of remembering why we celebrate Christmas and share that gift with those around you who may not know Christ.
I pray that in the next couple days leading to Christmas 2020, you are able to have time to reflect on that gift and what it means in your life. I’m praying we see a mighty movement of new believers as a result of the sharing of the Gospel. And I’m praying health and wellness for all of the Iron Porch family.
John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”